Stromal invasion is considered an important prognostic factor in patients with lung adenocarcinoma. The mechanisms underlying the formation of tumor stroma and stromal invasion have been studied in the lung; however, they are still unclear. CD109 is a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored glycoprotein highly expressed in several types of human malignant tumors including lung cancers. In this study, we investigated the in vivo functions of CD109 protein in malignant lung tumors. Initially, we identified an association between higher expression of CD109 protein in human lung adenocarcinoma and a significantly worse prognosis, according to immunohistochemical analysis. We also showed that CD109 deficiency significantly reduced the area of stromal invasive lesions in a genetically engineered CD109-deficient lung adenocarcinoma mouse model, which correlated with the results observed in human lung adenocarcinoma. Furthermore, we identified latent TGF-β binding protein-1 (LTBP1) as a CD109-interacting protein using mass spectrometry and confirmed their interaction by co-immunoprecipitation. Importantly, increased CD109 expression enhanced stromal TGF-β activation in the presence of LTBP1. Therefore, these data suggest the significance of the regulation of TGF-β signaling through CD109 and LTBP1 interaction in tumor stroma and also reveal the importance of CD109 expression levels in promoting lung cancer cell proliferation, migration, and invasion, and thus predicting the outcome of patients suffering from lung adenocarcinoma. Therefore, CD109 protein could be a potential therapeutic target for this disease.
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